There are two ways to make a sculpture, one is to take away, the other is to build up. Hobo Nickel carvers take away. A form of tramp art , the murky origins are similar to the ugly notched cigar box frames and furniture one still finds in abundance at antique shows. Supposedly started by hobos, these amateur Augustus Saint-Gaudens learned to carve the relatively soft Buffalo Nickel, thus adding value and trading them for bigger sandwiches. The buffalo nickel was minted from 1913 to 1938. The noble chief was a composite of Iron Tail, John Big Tree and Two Moons. The buffalo came from the Central Park Zoo. As they circulate, the first thing to go is the date, which was not delineated enough, thus frustrating young boys who would thrill to find one in dad's change only to realize the obliterated coin would not fill a slot in their little blue folder. Hobo nickels are still made today, in fact there are entire conventions of makers. I guess they get together and swap nickels.
Hobo Nickel c. 1913-1938 (and) c. 1990 Collection Jim Linderman